Corona crisis: how to keep the players fit without training at the club

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The coronavirus is having a tremendous influence on the lives of millions of people across the world. The capacity of hospitals is put to the test, schools are being closed and people are advised to stay at home as much as possible. Next to these influences on the way of living, the crisis also has an impact on sports teams. Competitions have been stopped and training accommodations are closed. And even though staying healthy is the most important issue for all people around the world, athletes also need to stay fit in these circumstances. But how do you handle this situation as a coach? Do you provide your team with an individual training program? And if so, what type of training program do you give them? In this blog, we will provide guidelines on how to keep players as fit as possible during the corona crisis.

Individual Training program

One of the aims of an individual training program during the (at least) 2 to 3 weeks of absence from team training session, is to limit the amount of detraining effects. After only 2 weeks of training cessation, there is already a remarkable detraining effect on endurance capacity. In team sports, this means that the recovery capacity of players in between repeated high-intensity actions will decrease. When this decreased recovery rate is repeated over and over during the match, fatigue builds up faster than usual. This will hinder the performance of high-intensity actions in the most decisive minutes of the match: the last 15 minutes. To limit these effects, exercises that focus on the endurance capacity of the players should be integrated into the training program.

High-Intensity Interval Training

One of the ways to do this is via High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This means that the players perform short periods of intense exercises, interspersed with periods of rest. For team sports, performing the following exercise twice a week should maintain the endurance capacity of the players: 4×4 min running at 16-18km/h (i.e. at 90% of the maximal heart rate, where player cover around 1,2km per 4 minutes), interspersed with 3 minutes recovery. But, this exercise is only possible if players are allowed to go outside or if they have access to a treadmill.  If this is not the case, players can also perform other exercises that focus on endurance. Tabata workouts (performing short periods of different strength and endurance exercises for 20 seconds, with 10-second recovery in between) are a good alternative in these cases.

HIIT Training
Volume Intensity Rest
4x4min At 16-18km/h 3 minutes rest between repetitions

Muscular Strenght and Power

The other aspect on which detraining effects will occur are muscular strength and power. This means that the maximal sprint ability (i.e. maximal speed and maximal acceleration) of the athletes will decrease. To limit the occurrence of detraining effects on this ability, a combination of two types of exercises should be performed twice a week: sprint exercises and core exercises. The sprint exercises will include longer sprint (6x30m at almost maximal speed, with 30 seconds rest in between) and shorter sprints (6x15m maximal sprints, with 30 seconds rest in between). To maintain the core stability of the players, core exercises can be added to the session with sprint exercises. For this, it is advised to look at the FIFA 11 injury prevention program for the best core stability exercises in team sports.

Muscular strength training
Sprint exercises Volume Intensity Rest
Long sprints 6x30m 90% of max speed 30 seconds rest
Short sports 6x15m 100% of max speed 30 seconds rest
FIFA Program* Volume Details
The bench 2×15 s per leg
Sideways bench 2x15s per side
Cross-county skiing 15x per leg
Chest passing in single leg stance 10x per leg Bounce ball on the ground instead of to a partner
Forwards bend in single leg stance 10x per leg Bounce ball on the ground instead of to a partner
Figure-of-eight in single leg stance 10x per leg Bounce ball on the ground instead of to a partner
Jumps over a line 10x side to side, 10x forward and backward
Zigzag shuffle 2x the course
Bounding 2x 30m

*For more details about the exercises (e.g. images of the exercise) of the FIFA program, see this document

Weekly program during the Corona crisis

As we have discussed, two types of individual training sessions will be performed: HIIT and muscular strength. For both these types of sessions, it is important to keep in mind that the recovery time between sessions of the same type should at least be 48 hours. If you usually have 3 sessions a week and a match, it is advised to provide a training program for the same days of the week. In figure 1 you will find an example of such a weekly schedule.

JOHAN’s tip of the week

With the JOHAN Team Performance App, you can see how each player experiences every session. This way you can check whether players are experiencing the session as harder than the weeks before. If they indicate that the sessions are becoming harder each time, this should warn you that they are experiencing detraining effects. This should signal you that you need to change the training program. In that case, you might decide to increase the frequency of the sessions (e.g. 3 times a week) or increase the number of repetitions they do of exercises (e.g. 10x30m sprints instead of 6x30m). Furthermore, feedback about their well-being (fatigue, muscle soreness, stress) can also help you to fine-tune the training program even more!

Do you have any questions about designing a training program for your team in times of the corona crisis? Do not hesitate to contact the sports scientists of JOHAN!

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